A group of about 150 ‘Trans Lives Matter’ protesters arrived at Oklahoma‘s State Capitol building Monday ahead of a new legislative session in which GOP lawmakers had pre-filed bills aimed at curtailing treatments like hormone replacement therapy, the Oklahoma Daily reported.
The demonstrators from Oklahomans for Equality and Freedom Oklahoma occupied the interior rotunda of the building, which is open to the public as a tourist attraction.
Their protest was against several bills introduced in the 2023 Oklahoma legislative session championed by Republican governor Kevin Stitt.
‘Bullard files bill prohibiting genital mutilation of youth under 26,’ a statement on the Oklahoma Senate website reads.
‘Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, recently filed Senate Bill 129, also known as the Millstone Act, to prohibit Oklahoma doctors from providing gender transition procedures or referral services relating to such procedures to anyone under the age of 26.’
According to HarpersBazaar, Stitt delivered the first State of the State address of his second term Monday and, among other things, he called for a statewide ban on gender affirmation surgeries and other treatments for minors.
‘Minors can’t vote, can’t purchase alcohol, can’t purchase cigarettes … We shouldn’t allow a minor to get a permanent gender altering surgery in Oklahoma,’ the governor said, insisting the bills are meant to protect the state’s youth.
Oklahoma has a long history of anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
In March of last year, Stitt, backed by conservative lawmakers, announced a ban on transgender student athletes competing in women’s sports.
In September, a group of Oklahoma students sued the state over its law that prohibits transgender students from using the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity in schools.
Trans rights activists told the Oklahoma Daily said Monday that the proposed legislation was misguided, and would likely have deadly consequences for Oklahoma’s LGBTQIA+ community.
‘Lawmakers fear the trans community as if trans people are coming for their kids, but in reality, trans people just want to live and mind their business,’ said one demonstrator, identified only as Laine.
‘For a lot of trans people, small things like [hormone replacement therapy] just help trans people feel more like themselves,’ she explained.
Other protesters claimed limiting access to such resources threatens trans individuals’ mental health.
A recent survey by the Trevor Project found that 59% of trans men, 48% of trans women and 53% of nonbinary people had considered suicide in the past year. Research by Columbia University, however, found that gender-affirming care consistently improved mental health outcomes for trans and nonbinary young people.